The importance of academic integrity and your guide for success - The University of Sydney

The importance of academic integrity and your guide for success

1 September 2023
How to maintain academic honesty in your assessments
One of the key parts to success is academic integrity. But what exactly is academic integrity, and why is it crucial for success?

Students are on a constant journey of learning and personal growth. While some of you might be feeling confident about your upcoming assessments, others may be unsure about what needs to be done to succeed. Academic integrity is integral to performing well in your studies, so we’ve put together a few tips to help you make sure your work is well referenced and credible come submission time.

Understanding academic integrity

Academic integrity refers to an ethical and honest approach to learning and education. It isn’t just about following the rules; it’s about developing your skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities. By actively engaging with material to complete assignments on your own and giving credit to others when you use their ideas, you’re enhancing your understanding of the topic while simultaneously building trust between you, your teachers and your peers.

Beyond your studies, the professional world values individuals who demonstrate integrity. Employers seek individuals who can be trusted with responsibilities, are honest in their actions and have a strong work ethic.

A student studying in the Quadrangle courtyard

Refining references

References show the breadth of your work and the effort you have put in to forming your own analysis, and so should never be seen as an afterthought.

Make sure you re-read the assessment instructions to check if you have complied with the required referencing style. Remember, different disciplines have different ways of referencing sources. The Library has compiled a list of recommended referencing style manuals that you can review to ensure your sources are formatted correctly.

If you have large chunks of text dedicated to quotes, this might be an indication that you’re relying too much on your source material, and are not demonstrating your understanding of major concepts. See if there is a way you can paraphrase the text into your own words, while still making sure to give credit to the original idea by providing a citation. Where there are direct quotes, make sure you’ve included quotation marks and the appropriate pinpoint citation.

And lastly, ensure you have included all sources used in your bibliography or reference list if one is required. An accurate reference list with appropriate formatting clearly identifies your sources, upholds academic integrity, and also affords easy marks in your assessments.

Digital tools – yay or nay?

Your use of digital tools and online resources needs to be carefully considered when it comes to what can be construed as plagiarism or cheating. The permitted use of automated writing and digital tools – including generative artificial intelligence, grammar checkers, translators, and paraphrasing software – is something that is determined by your unit coordinator.  

If any of these digital writing tools are expressly allowed, remember to clearly acknowledge how they were used to complete your assessment. Unapproved use of these tools or failing to acknowledge them appropriately can be considered a breach of the University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Unsure if digital tools are permitted in your subjects? Check the assignment instructions, the Unit Outline or contact your Unit Coordinator to confirm.

Learn how to use digital tools effectively and responsibly by visiting the AI in Education site, an educational resource designed by students.

Students studying in the Learning Hub

Seeking support

Students should never feel embarrassed to reach out for help. However, it’s critical to know which support services or resources are legitimate, and which are not. 

Third party companies with no affiliation to the University try to target students by offering to help with assessments. Known as ‘contract cheating’, the advertisements by these companies are not legitimate support services; they are illegal, and can put students at risk of falling prey to blackmail or scams.

We urge you to not engage with these individuals or businesses as the associated risks are immense. Not only do you risk being implicated in an academic integrity investigation and the penalties that may follow (which include failure, suspension and exclusion), but you may be vulnerable to the possibility of financial blackmail in the future.

There are several University resources students can utilise for their studies:

Please visit the University’s Student Support page for more information on the support services available to you.